tv PBS News Hour PBS June 10, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: i'm judy wood rough. on the newshour tonight, in washington, president obama met today with families of workers killed in the accident. with members of congress and with industry heavy weights . >> lehrer: and fred de sam lazaro has a pre-world cup report about post apartheid south africa.
>> it's brought all race s all nations in south africa together. more than anything else. the spirit is different all together. this we never experienced before. >> woodruff: plus, ray suarez debriefs fred about what the matches mean for south africa's economy and its sense of pride. >> lehrer: jeffrey brown talks with journalist sebastian junger about his new book, the story of a platoon of u.s. soldiers in afghanistan. >> one guy said to me, you know, some guys hate each other in this platoon but we'd all die for each other. the security of that relationship with other human beings is so tremendous that the guys will willing to risk their lives in order to get it. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's tphaur. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the gulf of mexico oil spill fouled more miles of coastline today, as b.p. pledged to pay damage claims faster. at the same time, the president and congress again stepped up pressure on the oil company. on day 52, the oil kept on flowing and so did the complaints. >> i have spent more time fight ing the official s of b.p. and the coast guard than fighting the oil. >> woodruff: bill any nungesser, the president of plaquemines parish, louisiana, testified at a senate hearing in washington. he said b.p. exec executives did not know just how bad things are. >> there may have been a start
when the new guy in charge, bob, came down and we took his hand and stuck in the the oil and he felt it and asked him "what do you they feels like on the back of a pelican?" he seemed to get it, and that was just the other day. maybe we'll see some changes. but until you see and go out there and see what it's doing, it scares the hell out of you. >> woodruff: in its now daily update, b.p. said the containment system on the damaged well head collected around 660,000 gallons of oil on wednesday. that's up slightfully the day before. but it remained unclear what the well's total flow is. coast guard admiral thad allen spoke in washington. >> as you might imagine, it's really complicated. we divided several teams up to take a look at this from different angles. literally different angles. the two basic things we're trying to do are reconcile two views of how the oil might be
determined. one of them is overhead use of satellite imagery and sensors from nasa aircraft. the other team is looking at the oil coming up from the riser pipe and the leaks before themselves. and two different ways to look at that. one of them is to analyze the video itself and make some assumptions about what's in that stream. and there's oil, natural gas, water, and sediment. >> woodruff: in the meantime, b.p. detailed new plans to bring in a tanker that would help transport the rapidly accumulating oil. plus an incinerator to burn off some of the crude. but some gulf coast communities made clear they're taking matters into their own hands. fairhope alabama's city council is spending $650,000 on booms rather than wait for help from b.p. or the government. >> i've been in meetings with b.p. officials that have made commitments-- and they were open-ended commitments, they weren't pushed on them, they made them freely and those
commitments have not been lived up to. >> woodruff: there were also attempts to address the complaints of damage claims stuck in limbo. national guardsmen in alabama helped fishermen, property owners, and businessmen file paperwork which many say is excessive and putting them on the brink of bankruptcy. tracy wareing, a government point person on the claims process says b.p. has now promised to expedite payments. >> b.p. recognized that their previous approach of waiting until basically after the books have closed for each month to calculate losses will not work. it won't get dollars out quickly enough for the businesses that are struggling on the ground and they have indicated that they will implement and are implementing a more expedited claims process for these larger loss business claims . >> woodruff: b.p. also faced mounting pressure from investors. its stock plunged 11% in london trading today before ending with a los of 7%.
the company's shares rallied in new york after yesterday's 16% loss. since the spill began, b.p. has lost half its total worth. back in washington, the political pressure kept building after a white house meeting, house speaker nancy pelosi insisted b.p. will pay everything it owes. >> b.p. must be held accountable. they must be held accountable in terms of the taxpayer. there are expenses that we are incurring as a government that they must pick up. >> woodruff: the house also voted today to eliminate the $100 million limit on how much the coast guard can spend on cleanup costs. the disaster began in april when the offshore rig deepwater horizon exploded and sank. today president obama met with relatives of the 11 workers killed. >> i think we all walked away from our meeting with the
president feeling very confident that everything is... that everything that he can do he will do. >> woodruff: mr. obama also turned again to what to do about energy in the long term. >> we have to move on an energy agenda that is forward-looking, that creates jobs, that assures that we are leaders in solar and wind and biodiesel, that recognizes that we are going to be reliant on fossil fuels for many years to come . that we are going to still be using oil and other fossil fuels but that we have to start planning now and putting the infrastructure in place now. >> woodruff: later the president met with business leaders to discuss energy reforms. late today, a government task force estimated the well's total flow may have reached 2.1 million gallons a day before the capping operation began. earlier estimates were substantially lower.
there is no estimate yet on the flow since the capping began, but it could be higher still. joining us now are two business executives who met with the president this afternoon. john doerr, a venture capitalist known for his investments in silicon valley and companies like google, amazon and sun microsystems. he's a partner with the firm of kleiner perkins caufield & byers. and chad holliday, former chair and c.e.o. of dupont. he is now chairman of the board of directors of bank of america. for the record, the bank is an underwriter of the "newshour." both are members of the american energy innovation council we thank you both for being with us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: chad holliday, i want to start with you. tell us the main things that you talked to the president about what you think are needed and why. >> this council of seven business leaders have worked for the last six months, put together what we think is a common-sense plan to give our
nation energy leadership built around more r&d. >> woodruff: research and development. >> research and development. john and i have talked and all of our members have. we're used to using innovation in research and development to make a difference in our businesses . we are investing in a very, very low rate, almost nothing in the energy industry compared to what we see in other industries, as our report describes, and we're simply saying we need to increase that significantly. from about $5 billion today to about $16 billion per year and use it very smartly. that's what we described for the president . >> woodruff: john doerr, why is this the responsibility of the government and not the private sector? >> well, government historically has funded the basic research that has made the country-- america-- a leader, a worldwide leader in, for example, the biotechnology industry or the internet industry . the government today funds $30
billion a year of health care research. through the national institutes of health. by contrast, we're only funding $5 billion a year in energy research and we're sadly buying more potato chips a year as a country than we are investing in our energy future . >> woodruff: chad holliday, how does this oil spill in the gulf change the argument you're making to the president? >> we started this work well before we knew anything about an oil spill. i think it just shows the vulnerability and the cost of our current energy system. so we talk about this need for r&d but no one had ever priced in the price of oil. the current costs that we're having to pay that your previous chip showed. so i think that makes people much more aware. i think people are more aware of exactly what it means to drill in those deep waters, so we can look at the alternatives that we're proposing in a different light. >> woodruff: john doerr, what
did the president say in response to that? >> well, we had very productive meetings with the president and his team as we have with leaders of congress and our recommendations were met with enthusiasm and he made it very clear that this is a... the top priority in his administration. that is transitioning america to a clean energy economy, generating jobs and to stop sending a billion dollars a day overseas to buy oil from countries that sometimes have v got a bull's-eye painted on america's back. so this is very much on his mind and he doesn't want an energy system as frail and unreliable as we aoebgs experiencing today with the deepwater horizon disaster. >> woodruff: chad holliday, the president the president
commit to the $16 billion you're asking for? this is a time when there are a lot of competing claims. >> i'm not the best one to answer that question but it was a very productive discussion . he was going to read our report and we came away very pleased. he seemed genuinely interested . as he described his direction for us and we gave our recommendations, he recognized it was a very good line. >> woodruff: and yet, again, this is... and one hear this is from other sectors, we are in a time of recession. the country has lost, what is it, eight million jobs? the deficit is on a lot of people's minds. given all that, were you still able to make the same argument in. >> well, it's a more difficult time for sure. but we must make choices. we must be able to reprioritize where necessary. and so it's a very difficult time for the economy. it's a difficult time for people. but we think if we don't start now with research and
development in this area, it was just delaying the future needs that we have to have. and from my view as a citizen, this would be a good investment and we ought to make that choice. >> woodruff: how do you answer that question, john doerr, about competing claims. the fact that we here in a recession, jobs, deficit, and the rest of it. >> well, today we here in a worldwide race for the next great global industry and i believe and my partners believe, and the president and members of congress believe that is the new clean energy technologies. you know, judy, if you look at the top 30 companies around the world in new clean energy-- that's the top ten in wind, the top ten in solar, and the top ten in advanced batteries, the sort that would power our electric vehicles, only four of those 30 are american companies. if i compare that to the internet, it's as if, gosh, microsoft and apple and google
and intel and yahoo! were all companies headquartered in europe or asia and only amazon was a company here in the united states. so we've got to make choices, make decisions now about whether we want to be making our own energy future with american jobs or if we want to be buying that future from china and other countries around the world. >> woodruff: chad holliday, i know some of the funding options that your recommendations include, fees on offshore oil and gas production, fees on imported oil, increasing the gas tax. these are all things one presumes would be vigorously opposed by the oil and gas industry and anybody who's counting on that industry for jobs or income. >> so i think we could look at fees like... describes in the report, we didn't recommend a particular fee. we could also do the reallocation of other resources. but i think these are investments for the future. they will ultimately mean lower energy costs.
there will be more jobs for us. and so i see this very different as an investment, not a cost. and so i think people should look at it that way. >> lehrer: john doerr, as i understand it, your council, your group, has not taken a position on energy policy options, at least some of them that are being debated right now. and in particular putting a price on carbon emissions, carbon pollution. how can you influence this debate if you don't take a position on that? >> well, our council has said that it makes sense to us to pay for this increased r&d by some form of price on carbon pollution from the energy system now, we also say that's not the only way that we can do it. it could come from general funds but the thinking of our group is not only must we fund the r&d, but we've got to find a way to get private capital to make this transition.
you know, judy, more money flows through the private capital markets in a day than through all the world's governments in a year. so there's no question that this job, this ran transition, this e of america and the world to a clean energy future is not going to be done by our government. it's going to be done by our entrepreneurs, by our investors, and by our business leaders. and i think that's why our recommendations today were met with real interest and enthusiasm. >> woodruff: if the arguments are so compelling, chad holliday, why is it so difficult to get energy legislation passed in washington-- which a lot of people say isn't needed. >> well, we met with over 30 members of congress today and we got a very good reception there and so people are working very hard on this now and speaking for john, i think, and myself, we came away very optimistic today, that this could be very productive. >> woodruff: john doerr, what would you add to that?
because the informed guessing, i guess you would say, is that we're not going to see energy legislation passed this year. >> well, i disagree with the informed guessers. i'm quite optimistic that, when presented with an opportunity to create a lot of new jobs and have america be kpetive in a way that stops borrowing money from china to buy oil from the middle east and then burn it throughout our country in ways that are damaging to the environment, that americans are going to choose and our leaders will choose to try to find a way to do that. and we believe, i believe, that one thing is very, very clear. we've got to get going on this innovation, on this research and development and deployment and that we will . >> woodruff: we'll leave it there. john doerr, chad holliday. gentlemen, thank you both. >> lehrer: still to come on the "newshour": south africa gets
ready for the world cup and the story of a platoon in story of a platoon in afghanistan but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our >> sreenivasan: wall street rebounded sharply today, on upbeat economic reports. the number of americans on long- term jobless benefits fell by the most in nearly a year. and, china announced a strong increase in exports. in response, the dow jones industrial average gained 273 points to close at 10,172. the nasdaq rose nearly 60 points to close above 2,218. the securities and exchange commission also installed new "circuit breaker" rules. they're supposed to prevent a repeat of last month's "flash crash" of 1,000 points in half some of the nation's military dead may have been misplaced or misidentified at arlington national cemetery outside washington. the u.s. army acknowledged the problem today. funerals at arlington national
cemetery are mark bid somber ceremony and meticulous care. but the paerpl inspector general's report today found at least 211 sets of remains have been misidentified or unaccounted for out of the 300,000 grave sites. in. >> in some, they found arlington's mission hampered by dysfunctional management, lack of established policy and procedures and on overall unhealthy organizational climate >> reporter: army secretary john mchugh says there's no way to explain sloppy recordkeeping and mismanagement at a place like arlington. >> as to the negative findings of the report, there's no excuse. and on behalf of the united states army, on behalf of myself, i deeply apologize to the families of the honored fallen resting in that hallowed ground who may question the care afforded to their loved ones. >> sreenivasan: the army inspector general steven whitcomb said mart of the problem could be outmoated technology. >> we are still using in
arlington an analog method, a card system to verify what's there, what isn't there, when it happened, what changes were made. that was the substantial piece of one of our findings as we need to bring the records keeping at arlington into the 21st century . >> sreenivasan: in addition, lawn mowing over the years sometimes knocked down gravestones adding to the confusion. secretary mchugh said the army will do its best to fix all of the problem. >> i don't know if anyone can ever assure anyone that circumstances are perfect and i think you could say that about any cemetery in america. but what we can tell the family members is we're going to make every effort to ensuring and examine every possibly technology and approach and system by which we can achieve that. >> sreenivasan: mchugh has formally reprimand it had cemetery's superintendent who is retiring. the deputy superintendent has
been put on administrative leave in afghanistan, an american was killed by a roadside bomb-- the 20th u.s. death this month and the latest in a wave of violence. officials in helmand province said the taliban hanged a seven-year-old boy on wednesday. he had been accused of spying. the militants denied they carried out a suicide bombing at a wedding party in kandahar last night. at least 40 afghans were killed there and scores more were wounded. today, the u.s. commander in afghanistan warned it will take longer to secure the kandahar area than first planned. general stanley mcchrystal said: "i think it's more important we get it right than we get it fast." russia will pursue talks to build more nuclear power plants in iran. that word came a day after the u.n. security council imposed new sanctions on iran over its nuclear program. the russian foreign ministry said the sanctions do not affect the nuclear plant talks. it also said moscow will keep a commitment to deliver surface- to-air missiles to tehran. u.s. attorney general eric holder promised a thorough
investigation today, in a border shooting that's raised tensions with mexico. a 15-year-old mexican boy was killed monday night by a u.s. border patrol agent. it happened at a bridge that connects juarez to el paso, texas. there've been reports that mexican and u.s. authorities drew guns on each other after the shooting, but holder emphasized cooperation today. >> the incident that we talked about is certainly a regrettable one. one that we are looking into, but i think the relationship that exists between law enforcement in mexico and in the united states is a good one and is based on a series of solid accomplishments, the sharing of intelligence and information and our general working together. >> sreenivasan: u.s. and mexican authorities have traded accusations about the circumstances surrounding the shooting. it came less than two weeks after a mexican man died in california, after a u.s. border agent used a stun gun on him. the u.s. senate has turned back a bid to stop the environmental protection agency from regulating greenhouse gases. republicans pushed to block
regulations that are set to take effect early next year. the rules will force emission cuts at power plants and large factories. president obama had threatened to veto the bill. an estimated 15,000 roman catholic priests rallied in rome today. the clerics began gathering early in the day in vatican square for an evening service. it celebrated the end of the church's "year of the priest." the rally was a show support for pope benedict xvi, he's been under fire for his handling of sex abuse allegations against clerics. the city of chicago celebrated today-- winning pro hockey's stanley cup for the first time in 49 years. the chicago blackhawks downed the philadelphia flyers four to three in overtime last night to win the best-of-seven title series, four games to two. also today, the n.c.a.a.banned the university of southern california from postseason play for two years. an investigation found former runningback reggie bush received improper benefits. a number of victories involving bush will be wiped out, including a national title win
over oklahoma in 2005. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: next, the world cup of soccer in south africa. a star-studded cast took the stage at the orlando stadium in soweto tonight. tens of thousands sang, danced and waved flags at the opening concert. the month-long tournament begins tomorrow on a continent and in a country that will be playing host for the first time to the world's biggest sport event. in south africa's capital, fans are streaming in, including vice president and mrs. biden, brazilian soccer legend pele and fans and journalists from around the world. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro begins our coverage with this report from johannesburg. >> reporter: for the 370,000 tourists who will attend the world cup, south africa will present a glitzy, moder face, a brand new bullet train into town
from johannesburg airport, fancy cars on broad freeways to booming suburbs. there's even a new mall in the historically black township of soweto, also infected with soccer fever. not long ago, the only blacks in places like these would have been cleaning them. but today few south africans of any color could match the consumer appetite and buying power of tim tebeila, one of the new class of black industrialists. he arrive it had other day to check on the progress of a new multimillion dollar home he's building. >> so the italian chandeliers have come in that you chose and it weighs what, one and a half tons? >> well, i'm blessed, that's what i can say. >> reporter: tim tebeila, son of a preacher and housewife, grew up in humble circumstances, like most black south africans. he joined the african national congress, the a.n.c., which was banned for fighting apartheid. racial segregation officially
excluded the 85% black majority from all but the most menial jobs in an economy based on diamonds, platinum, and gold, that gave the white minority one of the world's highest standards of living. >> please raise your right hand and say "so help me god." >> so help me god . (cheers and applause). >> reporter: the struggle culminated in the 1990 release of a.n.c. leader nelson mandela, after 27 years of imprisonment. he was elected president of a new democratic multiracial republic of south africa in 1994. >> my business career in 1994 i can say his improved dramatically. >> reporter: tim tebeila was trained as a teacher but says he's a natural salesman who quickly found success in the insurance business. by 1995, with the new government came new opportunities. >> i then established a company called tebeila construction.
now, that was also in response to a new trend in government in terms of trying to empower the blacks. >> reporter: tebeila went on to acquire the rights to vast holdings of south africa's rich cole deposits. he's one of the most successful beneficiaries of new and increasingly sweeping policies to increase black participation in the economy. more ownership of shares in industry, affirmative action in hiring and training, and more government contracts. but to many experts, tim tebeila is one of all too few success stories. aubrey matshiqi is a political scientist at a johannesburg-based think tank. >> south africa has become one of the most unequal societies in the world. in fact, in the past, prior to 1994, the inequality was between black and white . but today inequality has taken
both an interracial and an intraracial dimension. so you have black people who have benefited quite a lot since 1994, but you still have the majority who are still plagued by conditions of poor social and economic conditions. >> reporter: in fact, black unemployment in south africa hovers around 27% if you don't count people who've completely dropped out of the work force. meanwhile, whites-- 12% of south africa's 50 million people-- still occupy nearly 80% of all professional jobs. white unemployment is around 5%. whites have lost jobs in the public sector, mostly to blacks, many to a.n.c. members. they've also lost some private industry jobs because of affirmative action. there's been particularly stiff resistance to the so-called black empowerment programs among conservative afrikaner farmers, descendents of dutch immigrants who are the backbone of the apartheid regime. they complain about pressure to
sell to or partner with blacks and they point to violent attacks that have taken place on their farms. >> they are trying to take the farms and all that sort of thing. if you put them together, there's only one conclusion you can get to, and this is they want the whites out of this country. >> reporter: john duncan prinsloo, a farmer and veterinarian, has decided to sell his farm, the result of a tragedy that stuck late in 2009. armed robbers broke through his security system and killed his wife of 34 years, leticia. prinsloo himself hasn't recovered from gunshot wounds to his back. >> i want to be able to move around in this country and do my work and be productive in this country without having to walk around with a firearm in my pocket, without having to stay in the house... look. this is a bloody jail, man! it's not a house.
this is a jail! ,. >> reporter: crime, which used to be confined to the black townships, now indeed is rampant throughout the country, with 50 homicides daily. despite the government tripling its spending on tacking the problem. that's not the only tough issue facing the post-apartheid country. all south africans complain about the declining quality of public services, police and government workers falling down on the job, underperforming schools and universities that don't turn out enough and qualified black candidates for skilled jobs. jenny cargill is the author of a new book on the country's black empowerment programs. >> we didn't link our empowerment policies with education. government is also responsible for the delivery of these targets that business has been given because they must improve the education services and they must produce the graduates. >> reporter: even the empowerment programs that created new wealth are becoming difficult to crack. >> corruption. corruption kills
me. i actually get emotional. >> reporter: nonthlanthle mthethwa and her husband peace run an events management business. they've benefited from some contracts-- called tenders here-- but she says they feel increasingly shut out. >> for you to be able to make it as a black person, you need to know somebody that... including the tenders, that require the status today. you need to know somebody that could award that so you can get the tender. that's why you discover a lot of contracts and tenders, everything else today has failed in south africa because you have to know somebody else to get it, not because you can deliver a service. >> the general perception among people-- and the evidence seems to be building on it-- is that it's not a question of just being black, it's a question of being connected and it really is a select few that are politically well-placed that are gaining access to the licenses and to the contracts. >> reporter: some analysts worry that corruption has become
pervasive in the public sector. lumkile mondi blames a lack of leadership. >> the leadership we have for me leaves a lot to be desired. >> reporter: current president jacob zuma survived a corruption trial on a technicality just months before taking office. he's been plagued since by ongoing stories of marital infidelity in an already polygamous marriage, which is legal in south africa. he has three wives. >> it all talks to a lack of long-term vision. because people respond to what they see at the top. >> reporter: but he and others predict people will sooner or later respond as voters. the african national congress-- though still popular as the party of mandela, the one that delivered the country from apartheid-- will suffer from its complacency says analyst aubrey matshiqi. >> change is inevitable. so when president jacob zuma
argues that the a.n.c. will be in power until the second coming of christ, my interpretation is that that's one of the most optimistic things president zuma can say because it means jesus christ will be with us much sooner than we think. >> reporter: coming more predictably is the opening match of the tournament. it's brought south africans together like no event before . >> it's brought all races, all nations in south africa together. more than anything else . the spirit is different all together. this, we've never experienced it before. >> reporter: south africans can only wonder whether and how long it will last beyond the world cup, which concludes on july 11. >> lehrer: ray suarez talked to fred after he sent that report, earlier today.
>> suarez: fred, welcome. >> thank you, ray. >> suarez: we've seen the work that south africa has done. how much is it costing the country? >> it's costing south africa approximately $6 billion in just stadium construction and renovation. it's taken ten stadiums to put this tournament together, and that is just the cost of bringing those up to standard and, in some cases, just building them from scratch. so it's a substantial amount of country with the size of the economy south africa has. >> suarez: in such a poor country with such a tremendous gap between rich and poor, is there a national debate over whether this was worth doing in the first place? >> indeed, and it will go on for a long time. these are things that are debate in much richer countries as well. that is to say, the virtue of holding such events and what they bring to the host country. now, this, of course, is the very first time that such a huge event-- the world's largest sporting event-- is held on the
continent of africa and in terms of the intangibles, what it brings to this continent, that is where people see benefit that is difficult to measure. will it mean that this country if it pulls it off well will attract investment, will change its image, for example? it's also very much a pan african event as it's being marketed, at any rate. we will see no fewer than 22 african heads of state show up for the opening ceremonies for the world cup. so it's a big deal for africa and how you measure that dividend is very a very good question. and straight revenues to south africa, tourists, 350, 000 of them, 370,000, will pour in probably a couple of billion dollars. it won't recoup the stadium costs, but there will be some revenue to the tourist economy here. >> suarez: this may not be something that gets a simple yes, no, black-and-white reaction because some of south
africa's poorest people are among its most rabid soccer fans. are there those who are glad that the world cup is there and worry about that money being spent on it at the same time? >> exactly. and it all depends on where you happen to be in the grand scheme of things. there are a number of homeowners who were asked to prepare their homes, spiff their home ups-- and they spent a lot of money to do that-- in expectation there would be people coming to stay with them as houseguests. in many cases, that has not materialized. it's a bit disappointing. the world soccer federation has a very good deal for it, it negotiated with the south african government. the government has taken quite a bit of criticism for selling out too cheaply, for example. so it all depends on who you are in terms of what you'll get out of this at the very grass-roots personal level. there aren't many vendors around stadiums, for example, because they're not allowed under the rules for hosting this tournament here.
but, yes, it's all across the board. what there is at this juncture is a great deal of fever. south africans coming together. a great deal of national pride and at least for the sporting value, for the event, is a great deal of enthusiasm. and that's pretty unanimous . >> suarez: as you mentioned, this is the first time the world cup has come to south africa. is there both a desire among everyday south africans to show the country off to the world and demonstrate that they can manage such an extensive task as holding the world cup? >> there's a lot of breaths being held that this goes without too many hitches. there have been a few odd mishaps. there was a well-known... a well-publicized robbery last night. they apprehended some suspects. there's a great deal of nervousness and nimbleness on the part of law enforcement to show that this will go off very smoothly. we're also going to have a number of people helping the visitors out.
i mean, they are rolling the red carpet out to put on the sunday best in this country. >> suarez: if this goes off without a hitch, can it solidify the domestic position of the recently elected president jacob zuma? he's had his problems, hasn't he? >> he's had his problems and there may be a momentary bump that comes from the visibility in which he'll be greeting all of these heads of state he will be in the ceremonial events. but he's been plagued by all manner of scandal as i pointed out in the report a little earlier. beyond that, there are domestic problems and a great deal of unhappiness among people who voted and supported... voted for and supported him for not delivering on promises like bringing jobs to the economy. the economy has lost jobs under his tenure, which hasn't been very long. so jacob zuma has a lot of work to do, is not perceived as being a very strong leader right now. and if he gets any bump out of this event, it will be a very momentary and fleeting one.
>> suarez: fred de sam lazaro joining us from johannesburg, south africa. good to talk to you, fred. >> good to talk to you, ray. >> woodruff: finally tonight, an isolated mountain outpost, a small group of soldiers, and a window into the war in afghanistan. jeffrey brown has our book conversation. >> brown: in late april, american troops withdrew from the corn gal valley in eastern afghanistan, a six-mile sliver of rock canyon high in the mountains bordering pakistan. for much of the five years americans fought that there, the korengal was controlled by rotating companies of u.s. troops trying to wrest control from the taliban and other insurgents. during 2007/2008, author and journalist sebastian judger took five one... junger took five one month trips there to chronicle the soldiers of battle company
that the 173rd air airborne. it's now a book called "war and a documentary film titled to "es reprep poe. s reentrepreneur poe." you've taken a big war and honed in on one group of soldiers. what were you after? >> what i wanted was to understand the sort of universal experience of combat. i had the idea that that doesn't change much for the soldier on the ground war to war, censure troy century. >> brown: wherever you are. >> wherever you are. so i picked one platoon, second platoon of battle company. they were at a very remote out post called restrepo after the platoon med sick and i was with them off and on for a year. i became incorporate into the group with my video camera and i tried to document what the war was like for them not as a political thing but as an actual experience. >> brown: so it was one of the most violent places of the war and you capture that.
we learn a number of the soldiers came away damaged, but while there, the excitement, the thrill. i mean, there's almost no other word to use for what they are going through. >> there wasn't much up at restrepo. it was a two-hour walk from the main base. no internet, no outside connection to the world. no running water. they couldn't bathe for a month at a time. no television, obviously, no women, no alcohol. nothing that young men like. and really the only thing that gave their existence meaning there was combat. and there was a lot of it. they were in something like 500 fire fights over the course of the year. a fifth of all the combat in all of afghanistan was happening around them in that little valley. and so when time... you know, time went by where there was no fighting, they got very, very antsy. and in the end, it made them... made it quite hard for them to return back to italy where they're based . >> brown: this sense you're describing war but also trying to understand it, the nature of
courage, of fear, almost the psychology of war. did you start off wanting to do that or did that sort of come along in the process of recording what you were saying? >> my initial object was to just chronicle their experience and try to understand it. very quickly it became clear that what civilians call courage was an essential part of what was going on out there. there were many situations where we were taking very accurate fire and the guys would stand up and shoot back. which was the only way out of that situation. to shoot back you have to expose yourself. that's an act of courage. guys running through gunfire to pull an injured comrade to safety. but when you try to talk about courage with them, they sort of deny it exists. they just say "look, that's being a soldier, that's being a friend. that's not courageous, that's the minimum you can do." >> brown: in fact, the group dynamic of friendship, protection, is what comes out the most. >> yeah.
afterwards they missed being out there, which is... seems to be puzzling considering how dangerous and hard it was. and that's often attributed to well, they miss the adrenaline rush. that is a part of it but i think a small part of it. what really is going on is that in that place each man there is necessary to everyone else. he has a completely secure position within that small group. one guy said to me, you know, some guys hate each other in this platoon but we'd all die for each other. the security of that relationship with other human beings so is is is is tremendous that the guys are willing to risk their lives in order to get it. >> brown: and also that dynamic-- and it's interesting, because you sort of put yourself in this place as well-- that subsumes any sense of the larger war. i mean, they're not... don't seem to be talking too much about "why are we here?" "what are we doing?" you weren't interested in that much yourself, right? >> yeah. i mean, the soldiers were all volunteers.
unlike vietnam, it was a draft army. so none of them sort of bemoaned their fate that they're in the korengal. they joined the army, they joined the infantry and there they are. for a lot of them that was the point, it was what they wanted to experience. the broader politics of the war, the broader strategy really wasn't relevant to them. what was relevant was what was happening right in front of them in that valley, that was what they talked about. had they talked about the politics it would have been in the book but they didn't. so the book really is an intimate inquiry into their experience. >> intimate and you become part of this story. i want to ask you about that. you're embedded with this unit. you experience a lot of the same things they go through, including being hit... you here in a truck when it's hit by an i.e.d. how do you negotiate your role as journalist, as writeer while at the same time almost being, i don't know, almost one of the guys. i don't want to put too much of a stress on. that how did you see it?
>> it was... it was very hard to maintain anything close to neutrality or objectivity and very quickly i realized it was impossible. >> brown: you weren't going to orrery about it? >> i wasn't going to worry about it. it became interesting to me. the affiliation that i experienced with these guys, the affection i had for them, frankly, the subjectivity that started to occur many my journalism began to interest me because i realized that my feelings for them roughly mirrored their feelings for each other. and what i was seeing in my... in my inclusion in that group, what i was seeing was something very important about the group dynamics in a platoon. i was starting to understand why it is that soldiers will say, you know, the worst thing that can happen is that my buddy gets killed. and i would do anything to keep that from happening. and that just makes no sense to a civilian. but if you're out there with those guys and you start to feel the tug of that connection, it starting to make sense.
>> brown: of course, this role of the writer goes to fitting into a long tradition of writing about war, whether in next or nonfiction . >> it is, the wars that our country has been in, without the reporting that's done about those wars, the public would really is almost no access to those events. and at that point, i think it's really problematic politically for the public to really not be aware. and the way they understand these events is through books or film and through the news. >> brown: let me ask you finally. as i said at the top here, the u.s. military has pulled out of the valley, which means no one is any longer at restrepo or any other posts around there. you've kept up with some of the soldiers you write about. how do they feel about? do they sense that perhaps... do they think it was worth it? >> they're very conflicted about it. on the one hand, they understand
that every war is... has hair restrepo, their hamburger hill, their dunkirk. war is very dynamic. it changes continually because the enemy is changing his strategy as well and positions get abandoned and abstractly they know that. personally it was a very painful to see the withdrawal from the korengal, to watch restrepo be demolished with american explosives. that are very painful. and the meaning that place had they had to carry within their own hearts even though now it's essentially enemy territory again. >> brown: the new book is called "war" the new film is called "restrepo." sebastian junger, thank you for talking with us. >> thank you. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: heavy oil fouled more of the coastline in the gulf of mexico, as b.p. promised to expedite damage claims. the stock market rallied. ... late today coast guard admiral thad allen asked b.p. officials to meet with president
obama next week. the stock market rallied. the dow jones industrials average gained 273 points. and thousands of people turned out for a concert in johannesburg, south africa that heralds the world cup of soccer, opening tomorrow. the "newshour" is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: on the world cup, "art beat" reports on a debate stirring around the official song of the games. it involves the choice of a colombian pop star shakira to sing lead vocals instead of an african artist. we posted the full military report on the grave sites that have been misidentified at arlington national cemetery. plus betty ann bowser recaps her recent interview with f.d.a. commissioner doctor margaret hamburg. find out what hamburg has to say about the agency's track record on food safety. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> lehrer: and again, to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the iraq and
>> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online. and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: the national science foundation. supporting education and research across all fields of science and engineering.
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